Europe

London to face ‘tsunami’ of coronavirus cases in days as nurses across UK asked to move

The UK is planning to bring regional nursing staff from around the country to work in the ExCel centre that is currently being turned into an emergency hospital, as an overwhelming number of coronavirus cases is expected in London. Under new NHS guidance, nurses from all over England are expected to move to the capital in the coming days to help cope with the deadly crisis. 

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Chris Hopson, NHS Providers’ chief executive said: “They [London trusts] are struggling with the explosion of demand in seriously ill patients.

“They are saying it’s the number arriving and the speed with which they are arriving and how ill they are. They talk about wave after wave after wave.

“The words that are used to me are that it’s a continuous tsunami. As one said to me, it’s much bigger and large numbers with a greater degree of stretch than you can ever have possibly imagined.

“The CEOs are concerned that all that extra capacity is now being used up very, very quickly. We’ve got the surge capacity at the ExCel centre but this is filling up very quickly.”

Giving an update on the plan, ITV correspondent Nick Dixon claimed NHS staff will be expected to sleep in the new hospital for six weeks while they provide the necessary care for patients.

He said: “It’s becoming clear that some of the hospitals in the city are already getting to a stage where they’re overwhelmed.”

He added: “There’s always been a sense of urgency, of course, to get this (the ExCel centre hospital) up and running and fully operational as soon as humanly possible.

“But it seems that NHS bosses have been looking at the data, particularly over the last few days and the last week on how the virus has been developing, and what they are seeing in many of the hospitals in the city as they are already becoming overwhelmed.

“A lot of the beds being taken up particularly in the intensive care units.

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“They’re looking to see how they can just speed things up here.

“And what they’re looking at are measures like having staff sleeping inside the hospital for up to six weeks while they’re doing this long, intense, high pressure shifts.

“Bringing regional nursing staff from around the country and mobilising them to work here.

“Getting staff to approach bosses to work here just to speed that process up as well.”

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It comes as the Metropolitan Police Service and London Ambulance Service also urged former workers to return to the service or come out of retirement.

Met Commissioner Cressida Dick is writing to all former officers who retired within the last five years to ask them to rejoin the force, either in a paid or voluntary capacity.

Serving officers who are nearing 30 years’ pensionable service are also being asked to delay their retirement.

Ms Dick said: “On behalf of London, and all the men and women of the Met, it is important that we take all reasonable steps to bolster our numbers.

“Demands on us will grow and vary over the coming weeks but I want people to know and see that the Met is here for them.”

Meanwhile, the London Ambulance Service tweeted that it was “asking former members of our team to consider returning, if they can, to support us in helping Londoners in need.”

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